View this post on Instagram
If you would have asked 20-year-old me, heck, even 30-year-old me what the one key ingredient I look for in another human was—be that friend or partner—I would have reeled off a list of traits that included loyalty, kindness, steadfastness, and honesty.
But, authenticity is something that I didn’t really pay much time to. Being authentic, was a given—right?
Naivety is a great thing; it’s also a blind spot for me. This year has dealt me some sh*tty cards, but the one card it has turned over in its awfulness is the one I needed the most. That is, the authenticity card.
Authenticity by definition is the quality of being real or true.
Most of the disappointments in life I have suffered have been caused by a lack of authenticity in the communication and interactions I have had with people. Both inward and outward.
This lack of communication I believe is the intersection of roads that we navigate between disappointing people and being true to ourselves.
It’s the lack of wanting to hurt that inevitably causes the hurt because we take a path that is damaging to ourselves, our values, and our morals to enable us to not be the cause of discontent in others. This then festers and rots away at us until we eventually release the authenticity within—and double the disappointment in others.
In being untrue to ourselves for the short-term contentment of others, we cause a weakness in the relationship, which like a geographical fault line, will eventually crack open and cause irrevocable damage.
Be that in the friend who sticks by us even when what we are doing causes them internal conflict, be that in the guy who doesn’t love us but sticks around to not hurt us, be that in the colleague who we go along with but whose actions bring us discomfort.
When we choose to not show up to a situation authentically, we not only betray the people we are interacting with—but the very core of our own being.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather have an honest enemy than a fake friend.
How often do we agree with someone because we are worried that in not agreeing they will think less of us?
I would say, a sh*t load.
But when we do this, we are practicing inauthenticity, which then turns this disappointment inward and leaves us feeling fraudulent, uncomfortable, and angry.
Whilst we can often hush our inner moral compass, tame our heart, or ignore our head—our gut knows. It knows, and it tells us.
And we hear it. It may not deter us instantly to challenge the status quo—but it will get us eventually. This sh*t catches up to us and lets us know we are being untrue to ourselves; at some stage, we will inwardly pay the price.
Nobody wants to hurt the people we love; nobody wants to be the dealer of the blow that disappoints others or the piece of wood that goes against the grain—but it is essential from time to time. It is essential if we are committed to living the truest version of ourselves. It is the right thing to do, in the long run,
Authenticity is therefore the antidote to disappointment.
Being authentic requires us to be courageous and vulnerable. It’s a fable of short-term losses and long-term gain. It’s a road that requires us to show up for ourselves. If you don’t like the host—don’t go to the party, right?
How many hard conversations and heartbreaks could have been avoided by us being more authentic? I would hazard a guess, a sizeable amount.
Authentic relationships are not formed from inauthentic actions. If we decide that something does not sit right with us, a suggestion is one we do not agree with, or a situation is one we are uncomfortable with, we owe it to ourselves to authentically withdraw. In that withdrawal, we will gain a more solid understanding of ourselves; in keeping quiet for the sake of conformity, we are doing ourselves significant damage in the long term because we are becoming the curators of our next disappointment.
If being authentic results in a loss of friendship or a breakdown in a relationship then we need to roll with these punches, swallow the disappointment, and nurture the true authentic friendships that thrive in this newfound realness we have fostered.
We cross a line every time we inauthentically show up to a situation that does not morally align with our values. That line once crossed leads to our own emotional undoing.
We have all heard the saying: no expectations = no disappointment.
And whilst this conveys much truth, it is not so easy in practice. But, if we are all trying to practice authenticity, surely that will lessen the sting of disappointment, as our expectations, whilst present, will be better managed.
In understanding someone is acting out of radical truth instead of a people-pleasing falsehood, we will at least have an inkling into the psyche of the recipient of our actions.
There will always be disappointments, but a spoonful of authenticity will go a long way in lessening the pain.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection